Ukraine braces for measles outbreak

Public health officials in Ukraine are warning that a measles outbreak could lead to 500 new cases of the illness by the end of the year.

Ukrainian First Deputy Health Minister Raisa Moiseyenko recently announced that she expects the western half of the country to be hit the hardest, according KyivPost.com.

"Some 193 cases were recorded as of November 1, but the number of patients currently seen in western Ukraine is growing. At the end of the year, we could have 500 such cases [of measles]," Moiseyenko said, KyivPost.com reports.

Moiseyenko also said that public health officials have begun anti-epidemic activities in the Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.

Previously, the deputy health minister said that the increase in measles cases was due to a rising incidence of measles throughout Europe and a failure to develop a large-scale immunization plan for adolescents and young people in 2008.

Moiseyenko estimates that, in comparison with last year, the number of measles cases has risen by six times, according to NRCU.ua.

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe said that there have been 30,000 measles cases in 29 European countries since the beginning of 2011. Ninety-percent of European measles cases are thought to be among adolescents and adults who have not been vaccinated or among people who have no knowledge of their vaccination status, according to the BBC.

European outbreaks have been linked globally to outbreaks in several other countries, including the United States, Brazil, Canada and Australia.